Years after being sexually assaulted by Barrick Gold security staff, gang rape victims are finally being offered counselling and micro loans — but only if they waive their right to sue the world’s largest gold company.
This corporate failure to address the abuses with dignity is no surprise since Canadian-owned Barrick’s chairman, Peter Munk, states that it is impossible for the company to police the behaviour of 5,550 employees in Papua New Guinea. Instead, he blames the community’s culture for the gang rape of women, saying: “[G]ang rape is a cultural habit. Of course, you can’t say that because it’s politically incorrect. It’s outrageous. We have to pretend that everyone’s the same and cultures don’t matter. Unfortunately, it’s not that way.”
As the retirement-aged chairman tries to turn his attention to his legacy beyond business, tell him to make sure that his company is protecting the victims of his staff’s behaviour. Send a message to Barrick’s: Gang rape is not a cultural habit. Offer compensation package to rape victims without conditions.
Details of abuses at Barrick’s Porgera mine are simply disgusting: one victim told Human Rights Watch that she was forced to swallow a condom used to rape her. Another woman testified that she was gang raped by six Barrick security personnel at the company’s waste dump after assailants shattered her teeth. Years after the abuse, Barrick finally offered compensation packages that do not reflect court settlements — and only on the condition that the victims sign away their right to sue Barrick.
Barrick is particularly vulnerable to public pressure now. It’s facing a “perfect storm” of problems, according to its CEO. In May, Barrick was fined a record amount by the Chilean government for a project that is already billions of dollars above cost. The Pascua Lama mine is facing widespread community protest in Chile and Argentina for threatening ancient Andean glaciers. On top of that, Barrick’s shareholders rejected an attempt by the company to pay its new chairman a $12 million dollar signing bonus because the company trading at a 20-year low.
Now, while Barrick’s public profile is at an all-time low, is the best time to call on the company to changes its social corporate behaviour. Lets join MiningWatch Canada, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, and 80 other groups to speak out against Barrick’s demeaning response to rape victims.
Thanks for all you do,
Kaytee, Marguerite, and the rest of us.
Papua New Guinea: Serious abuses at Barrick Gold Mine, Human Rights Watch, Feb. 1, 2013
Barrick Gold’s Offer to Rape Victims Slammed by NGO’s, The Tyee, Feb. 2, 2013
Peter Munk’s reflection of being a winner, Globe and Mail, Feb. 11, 2011
Peter Munk confront Barrick’s ‘perfect storm’, Globe and Mail, Apr. 24, 2013